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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that the now-withdrawn alleged corruption case involving Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng was an example of selective prosecution by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
Defending Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas, Dr Mahathir claimed that many others in a similar situation were never penalised.
“There have been criticisms, but as you know, the previous government victimised all the Opposition,” he told reporters here.
“There are many people who have done what Guan Eng has done, but they were not selected.
“They selected Lim Guan Eng for a special purpose, to get rid of him,” he said, insisting that Lim’s case differs from that involving former Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.
Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on the criticisms levelled against Thomas, after Lim’s acquittal.
Dr Khir was charged with abuse of power, after buying two plots of land and a bungalow below market price, when he held public office.
He was subsequently jailed on September 12, 2015 for 12 months, for using his position to purchase land and bungalow units in Shah Alam worth RM6.5 million.
The former Sungai Panjang assemblyman was released from prison when he was granted parole after serving six months.
Prior to being appointed as AG, Thomas ran his own law firm, and had also acted as one of Lim’s counsels in his corruption case for purchasing a bungalow below market price.
On September 3, Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Koon were acquitted by the High Court in Penang on corruption charges, over the purchase of a bungalow below the market value, while Lim was Penang chief minister.
Following the acquittal, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement, that it was “very shocked” by the court decision, adding: “MACC would like to stress that the decision to withdraw the case was decided by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and not from MACC.”
Thomas also came under fire with the Opposition, as well as former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, questioning his integrity over Lim’s release.
However, the head of the AGC’s appellate and trial division, Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria had, in a statement later, explained that Thomas had nothing to do with the prosecution’s withdrawal of corruption charges against Lim.
Hanafiah said he had been tasked by Solicitor-General Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek and then-Solicitor-General II Datin Paduka Zauyah Be T. Loth Khan with handling the matter after Thomas recused himself from leading the prosecution.
He explained that he made the decision to stop the case involving both Lim and businesswoman Phang, as he knew it would not succeed at the end of the prosecution’s case.